A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown is a 2011 movie in which four young men from different walks of life decide to compete in an MMA "beatdown." It's not a direct sequel to the 2008 Never Back Down. It should surprise no one that there's constant MMA-style violence: punching and kicking, boxing and wrestling, blood and broken bones. There's also brief female nudity (breasts), and a sex scene in which all private parts are strategically covered by long hair or camera angles. When it's discovered that the father of one of the fighters came out of the closet as gay and left his family because of it, jokes and references to homosexual stereotypes and anal sex are made at the fighter's expense, shown to be an easy way to get him riled up, and while there seems to be some acceptance toward the end of his father, there's a general intolerance on display throughout the movie. There's constant profanity, including regular uses of "f--k" and its variations. A severely drunk man outside a strip club attacks the owner, dancers, and clientele with a broken bottle. Overall, this is a low-budget movie best enjoyed by fans of MMA.
What's the story?
In NEVER BACK DOWN 2: THE BEATDOWN, Mike has been kicked off the wrestling team after beating up a rival and his coach: The rival had joked about Mike's dad coming out as gay. Zack is a boxer who has been told that after getting beaten up during his last match, he has a detached retina -- and if he keeps fighting, he'll go blind. While going to school, Tim works full-time trying to help his mother -- who has now taken work in a strip club -- to keep their house after his father died. And Justin has a bad MySpace emo haircut and works in a comic book store, thus making him the target of bullies in the neighborhood. When Mike starts college, he meets Max, who is trying to organize and promote an MMA "Beatdown" event. Max encourages Mike and Zack to find the best trainer around, Case Walker, who teaches mixed martial arts in a vacant lot. Case is a tough-as-nails trainer who will need at least one montage to get these four guys in MMA-fighting shape. But Case has issues of his own, to say nothing of the in-fighting between the four trainees, and as the night of the "Beatdown" looms ever closer, each fighter must come to grips with his weaknesses as well as his strengths as they all prepare to settle their disagreements once and for all inside the cage.
Is it any good?
If only the actors in this sequel had spent a little less time in the gym and more time in the Drama Club. If only the filmmakers spent less time on the fight scenes and more on the fundamentals of scriptwriting, character development, and conflict. If only the production values were less amateurish. Then maybe Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown could have been something entertaining for those who aren't superfans of MMA. But even then, probably not. Aside from the demographic fond of saying, "'Sup, brah?" in a nonironic fashion, it's hard to imagine anyone else seeing this as anything more than cheesy B movie fare.
While the dyed-black emo haircut of one of the characters is certainly dated, what's even more dated is the overall attitudes everyone has over the fact that the father of one of the lead characters has come out as gay after leaving his family. While the movie attempts to show that Mike isn't mad that his father is gay -- rather, he's mad that he left his family -- it's clear throughout that Mike is triggered by the shame he feels that his father is gay. This is one of at least five secondary stories that never really gets resolved. This won't matter to those who just want to see a lot of mixed martial arts, but it does severely limit any interest in this movie beyond those who are already fans of MMA.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sports movies. How does Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown compare to other sports movies?
How does this movie address the issue of a father coming out as gay?
Was the violence necessary for this movie, or did it seem like a gratuitous gimmick to keep the audience entertained?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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